On Realizing Real Reality
However wonderful or dreadful we find the world, our so-called reality, deep down we know it is nothing but an illusion. This is what mystics tell us, from their experience. They say there is a more real reality, one that transcends the miseries of the radical change this pandemic is forcing on us. They say we can know this realer reality for ourselves, in ourselves. The sudden and drastic global emergency is pushing us to find, to make real, to realize the real reality of love. In this way the virus is a blessing!
Our reality, the world – or rather our perception of it – has many powerful effects on us, effects that impel us to think it real, effects that have us react. As Baba Ji says, we are always reacting to what we think is happening. If it hurts this much, if it makes me angry like this, if it seduces me so often, if it frightens me so profoundly, if it kills so many, if it distracts me from my meditation so quickly, then it must be real. We touch it, feel it, smell it and cannot stop looking at it.
We humans are in crisis (nothing new there)! There are moments in this pandemic when it is like being inside a cataclysmic disaster movie. Just as in the cinema, we think we’ll get to the end soon, once Superman has rescued the planet. The lights will go up. Surely, we can soon go home to normal reality?
But just as this world is illusory, so there is no way back to any “normal”. Anyway, that’s the last thing we want: was it “normal” that we humans were bringing life on this planet ever closer to annihilation? Although the crisis is holding us sharp against the edges of our illusion, it also brings us face to face with the opportunity – and the hunger – to find the realer reality inside, to meditate.
Mystics know what and where the real reality is. How they know mystifies us, it is simply and clearly mysterious, that’s why we call them mystics. They tell us the realer reality is inside us and that we can find it, know it, for ourselves in this very lifetime. All we have to do is meditate, thereby letting go of the illusion!
Western philosophers tell us that reality is everything we, or anyone else, knows to be true. Everything you know to be true. Everything I know. Everything we know. All that knowing! It’s all in the mind.
The point is that the world I live in is inseparable from my mind. The world could be said to exist in our minds, certainly because of our minds. In other words: the existence of something we think is physical, depends, in some inexplicable way, on a mind knowing it to exist. This is illusion. The relationship between each one of us and what is “out there” is illusion.
There is a realer reality that we can and will realize! It is beyond time and space. Its fundamental ingredient is love – the love our Satguru lives in and blesses us with. He is there (and here) to have us realize the unchanging truth of Shabd inside. This is the ultimate relationship of love, ultimate because it exists beyond time and space. It is infinite.
Our worldly relationships, whether with people, ideas, ambitions or fantasies, are echoes of this divine partnership. The objects of our attention, the concepts we conceive, the things we love, think and worry about, are made and kept real through our obsessive thinking. We think in language; the language of the world is our simran of the world, of space, of time.
The reality of Covid-19 is inseparable from our minds. We react to our knowledge that hundreds of thousands have died and will continue to die from it. Science looks for an answer as to the how and why. To stop it from spreading we have all had to go into lockdown. Like a demented train, whose brakes have failed, the virus is heading directly for the structure of our everyday lives in ways we find hard to understand. Is it a punishment for crimes we are ignorant of having committed? Are we being taught some difficult lesson?
Punishment is meted out by a judge and jury, not by the Lord. What happens to us is not a punishment, but the result of what we’ve done before. That may sound like hair-splitting but no; there is a subtle but important difference between punishment and karmic result. The universe of space and time could not exist without karma. Karma is the unstoppable result of what has happened before. Punishment – like being sent to prison – is what society does to keep us in order. Karma offers us a lesson that can bring us back to the classroom of love.
There is a crucial difference between knowledge gained from inside by introspection, and from outside through observing the results of the mind’s working. Outside is science, bound with uncertainty: the closer you look, as Heisenberg realized, the more uncertain becomes your knowing, while introspection is direct and what it sees is certain, because it is a direct knowing. The word ‘gnosis’ shares the same root as ‘knowledge’ – it means an intimate, inside knowing of mystical truths. Gnosis is certain. It is the absence of self. We can be gnostics.
There is a science of gnosis. Our master suggests that we might find the truth inside, so we go into the private laboratory of our humanity and perform the experiment of meditation. If we perform it as the master instructs, we will go inside where we can see and touch and hold the truth. This inside knowledge is not of the story we keep on telling ourselves about ourselves, not that fiction. No, it is knowledge as union, as being one, as Shabd. Knowledge that absorbs all the uncertainty, anguish, and fear of being out in the land of plague.
We sometimes describe a master as being a fully realized soul. He has made his soul, the Shabd, fully real. However globally horrific the pandemic may be in our worlds, it is simply another – albeit extreme – outgrowth of time and space. It is a most- engrossing story, but that’s it, no more than a story. The master’s realer reality of love enables a powerful and practical compassion for the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been directly hurt. He shows us that the pestilence brings us an opportunity to realize a realer reality.